Can You Tell Me Why?

Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Family, motherhood, women | 74 comments

This is a question I’ve been wanting to pose for a while now, and this seems like a good forum for it.

I believe in the past I’ve mentioned that I am childless by choice. There are a variety of reasons that I don’t want kids, and I believe that it would be unfair to all involved if I were to have kids before I want them.

My feelings about kids seems to have put me very much in the minority. Most people I encounter can’t seem to fathom not wanting children. I’m often asked, “But why don’t you want kids?” It appears that wanting kids is considered normal and not wanting them is considered abnormal. But just as many people can’t understand why I don’t want kids, I can’t understand why people do want kids. I respect that people do, but I don’t know why they do.

So the question I have is, why did/do you want kids? Have your feelings about wanting kids changed? And is reasonable to ask someone why they want kids, or is that like asking why someone likes chocolate or doesn’t like the color orange? Can you explain it, or is it something inherent that can’t really be explained?

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74 Comments

  1. Okay first off who doesn’t like orange?! I mean maybe traffic cone orange, sure, but sunset orange? Amazing. I do not have children, but I am planning to. Like you I have never really desired them. I can think of few moments when I found motherhood appealing, I have never been someone who wanted to pick up babies (except my nephews) and I feel like babysitting is some kind of purgatory.

    Here is my thinking on why I will be having kids anyway. I don’t relish the idea of being a mother to infants or preschoolers. But when I am old, I would like adult children to come to Thanksgiving. I would like grandchildren to spoil. I actually really enjoy teenagers having worked with them professionally and in church capacities. Though they are sometimes frustrating, they can think and make funny jokes and have insights. I’d like to be a parent to kids like that. I gather that in order to have older children, you need to first have infants and toddlers. So even though I’m not terribly excited about pregnancy, nursing, ABCs etc. I think it will be well worth it (and some joy on the way) for the life I want to have down the road. I have a lot of fun with my mom and hope that some day I will have fun with adult children when my mother is gone.

    I take comfort in the thought that my mother and my grandmother were also unmaternal women. No women in my family have exhibited wild enthusiasm about children or childbearing, but everyone loves their own kids. I do really love my nephews, but not other kids. So maybe I’m just the kind of woman who is only a good mom figure to her own children.

    • DefyGravity and Mhana,

      I love your honesty. Like Mhana, I have never been a baby/toddler fan, but I always enjoyed kids age 3 and older so I became a first grade teacher and loved it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my own babies and toddlers–and they gave me greater tolerance for the infants of others.

      My kids have been a great joy in my life, but I realize not all women would find this true. Two of my daughters are childless and their lives are far from empty.

    • Mhana, I really appreciate (and resonate) with your comment. I mostly just love my siblings babies, and then babies of VERY close friends. Not every baby. So sometimes I get a tad bit nervous, that I’m not really cut out to be a mother, even though I would really like to be one in the not too distant future.

    • [So sad that I feel like I be anonymous because expressing opinions about motherhood that are anything other than "It's the best job in the whole world and I love every moment!" causes others to attack and judge me as a horrible person]

      Wow, I feel like I could have written Mhana’s comment. But I have two children already, and it’s hard for me to separate out why I have children now, and why I had kids back when I was a literal and devout believer in the Mormon faith. Then, I had kids because it was what God wanted. Now, I have kids because I have them. My parenting mantra is “They didn’t ask to be born” and because of that, I know they deserve the best effort I can manage. The choices I make now about their lives will shape who they become in very real ways, and it’s not their fault that I don’t enjoy it like I had been told I would.

      Now, as Mhana said, I try to look for the reasons why having kids will be a big benefit to me personally. I think having grandkids sounds really awesome, and our parents (husband’s and mine) seem to relish it like no other. Also it is nice to have a support system as you grow older (because no matter how much you pay someone, it is unlikely that they are going to care for you in your old age the way your children would). I also think that I’ll enjoy having older children, and that we will get a lot of out challenging their minds and watching how they interpret the world.

      For now though, it’s toddlers and tantrums and diapers and a whole lot of me trying desperately to remember that this won’t last forever. I think that if we had transitioned out of the Mormon faith before we had kids, it would have been a long time, if ever, before we would have had them. Now I try to focus on the idea that I can get them into school, possibly go back to school myself, and start an actual career. Instead of fighting the battle where I devote a lot of time and energy to a career and then drop out when I can’t make having kids work+a career.

      • I feel similar to what you do. I haven’t left the church, but I am certain the reason I had kids was because I was told that’s what I was suppose to do. I also bought in to the idea that being a mother would bring me joy. I don’t hate every moment, but it isn’t the joyfest I imagined. I love my children as people, but I don’t love the mothering part. I would say though, that having children is for the parents in so far as it helps them learn to be less selfish (or for a stay at home mom, basically give up their own lives. . .) I don’t like it when people seem to have kids for their own satisfaction. Kids likely won’t satisfy you, they want to satisfy themselves! Don’t have kids if you don’t want them, it only cheats you both. But it is a huge service, so that is the benefit of it.

      • I’m always curious why women who don’t seem to enjoy the SAHM thing (it’s okay, it is certainly not for everyone,) often insist that “having a career and kids” just “won’t work.” Dads do it all the time. :)

        I have a career that I love (even though sometimes it is very frustrating to find work/life balance,) and a child that I am surprised at how much I adore. It can work! It’s hard, but it sounds like being a SAHM is hard too. Why not try a new thing? It may be hard, but it may also bring more happiness and contentment into your life.

        In response to the broader question, my husband and I married because we loved each other deeply, but we also both admitted that we were looking for someone to start a family with after growing up surrounded by dysfunction. We didn’t know if that included kids, but we wanted to start our own family, at least with each other.

        After five years of marriage, adding a child just “felt right.” (
        I know it might not be for others, and I am offering no judgement on people who decide not to have kids. )

        Now that we have her, I can certainly say she helped heal many of the wounds my husband and I have as a result of our upbringing. We have a chance at a new type of family, and it has been a miracle for us.

        I am surprised at how much I love my kid. I think a lot of my love comes from the fact that I chose her. I didn’t have her because the church told me to, or because society told me I “had” to. I also did not rely on my child to make me happy. I think lots of women end up feeling cheated by motherhood because they are taught their children will make them happy, and then the PPD and the tantrums and the late nights make them question their choice.

        I never want to burden my child with making me “happy.” She does, I love her, she brings a mind-boggling joy into my world. But my happiness doesn’t come from an external source, even one as wonderful as my child. It comes from a contentment from being authentic and true to myself.

      • AnonMother, thank you for commenting. I also find the stigma of not liking mothering unfortunate. I’ve been called all kinds of things for not wanting kids. So thank you for sharing your story, and I hope you don’t feel judged in this forum.

    • I share your feelings about liking the idea of grown children to spend time with. But I know I have dissapointed my parents in some ways, and I know many children don’t take the time to visit parents when they are older. So I wonder if i’ve romanticized the idea beyond what is likely to happen.

      I also really enjoy teenagers. I’m trained in secondary education (ages 12-18 for those outside the US) and like teenagers a lot. Small children irritate me,and babies make me nervous. I’ve considered getting involved in foster care, but I need to be in a more stable situation first. I’m not sure how I would get through babies and small kids to get to teens, or if I’d think they were as funby the time I got there.

  2. I want to have kids, but I can’t pin down why exactly, so I’m assuming it’s part biology, part social/religious conditioning, and part actual desire. I hope the 2nd reason isn’t that strong, because I’d hate to realize I had kids because I thought I ought to. I luckily haven’t been asked this question by very many non-Mormon people (most of my friends are atheists) who don’t want to have kids, because I’m not sure how to explain myself.

  3. For me personally, I want kids to help me be less selfish. I’ve done a lot of things that I have wanted to do, like travel, living overseas, work, mission (though I would not say that is selfish), etc. But those are all things that *I* want to do. I feel that having kids, though a challenge, will help me overall focus less on myself. Besides, kids are funny, and nothing worthwhile in life is easy. But that is just me.

    • Is it always selfish to do what you want to do with your life? I can see that kids would be one of many ways to focus on other people, but what is wrong with focusing on yourself as well? And granted, doing hard things is often good, but is it worth to do something just because it is hard?

      • Like I said, that is just my opinion. I feel that what you wrote suggests that focusing on yourself and children have to be mutually exclusive. And I do plenty of things for myself, just so you know. I feel it is also important to remember what the purpose of this life is for and how family and children play into the Plan of Salvation. There had learned wonderful lessons and had amazing experiences that I would not have had otherwise if it were not for my family and kids. Those things have brought me closer to God and strengthened my faith and testimony.

        About hard things, it is the reward that comes from that hard work that makes it worthwhile. I also enjoy challenges, feeling like I accomplished something. That is why I run, do triathlons, hike, work at my career, read books (I have dyslexia), further my education and participate in my lifelong passion of humanitarian aid. I love cultures (I studied anthropology) and I love teaching my kids about those things, in an effort to “get them out of their bubble” and (hopefully) in the future be awesome members of society. Doing hard things for the sake of it would probably just be masochism or whatever. Moms have a great impact in the world, and I want to be a great one so society can be better (because there are plenty of moms who don’t teach well).

      • I resonate with this response about selfishness. I have a deep love for science—and I feel like I have talents in that area—but I didn’t go into it as a career because I thought it didn’t jive with the SAHM destiny, the destiny I thought was mine because that’s what righteous Mormon women do. I have since learned that there are MANY ways to be a righteous Mormon woman (and I’m in the process of publishing a book of essays by 12 Mormon women that cut down harmful stereotypes—look for Undefining Women in the next year), and that there are MANY ways to serve and be unselfish, only one of which is having children. I do love my son, and I am also a good mother, but I sure didn’t love the extreme pain and PPD that followed his birth. Some women’s bodies and situations and temperaments, I would argue, are just better at bearing life than others, so there is no need to force children into this world through an unwilling body on the pretense that mortal spirits won’t have a chance at mortal life. I hate that false guilt trip. Even with one child, I have already had pressure to have another, and a tired Mormon woman with three children once told me she feels the same pressure to have more—when does it stop? How can we rid ourselves of this pressure in our Church culture? Is the emphasis on sacrifice, peer pressure, the fear of being left out, or plain old masochism driving our decisions to have children? If a woman does want to have children, that’s great! I have no problem with that. But assuming that every woman wants to have children creates emotional distress for the rest of us, minority though we may be.

        Moreover, just as we’ve established a hierarchy in heaven, in which the most righteous women bear children for eternity, we’ve established a hierarchy of joys—and culturally, where I grew up at least (along the Wasatch Front in Utah), the joy of doing science ranked far, far, far below the joy of taking care of babies and children and family. Do we need to put such a limit on joy? And individuality? My mantra is that heaven is heterogeneous, and that I should use the gifts that God gave me to serve others, but in ways that are enjoyable to me. What if heaven is as big as God is love?

        And finally, living in the Marshall Islands has taught me that there are a great deal of people who need our assistance and love in this world. Is taking care of them not as important as bringing new life into the world? Is contributing to the world’s knowledge through science also another way to serve and bless others?

        I am convinced that there is a place in the Church for women like me. I have a testimony of Christ but not of a quota of children that will get me into heaven.

        Thank you for creating a space where we can express ourselves. I surely appreciate it. It is important to discuss hard things.

    • For me, I selfishly wanted children. It is a whole different ball of wax for couples who deal with infertility. I stopped going to RS meetings because I selfishly was tired of being told that I needed to give more because I didn’t have children. We skipped pot lucks, avoided gift-giving to friends and family, skimped on food and soical events overall, etc. all to pinch every penny possible to pay for adoption fees and wait lists, homestudies, IVF and even surrogacy.

      I suppose we were rude to people sometimes, but our hearts were aimed at having a family, rather than having friends who wanted us to join them for skiing for a weekend. So– wanting children made me selfish because of the path I was obligated to take in order to obtain that goal.

      I wanted to be a mother because of these core reasons, in no particular order:

      1. Because I was told I could not.
      2. Because I wanted to have a family and I wanted to be the kind of mother that helped in the classroom.
      3. Because I wanted to take the good of what my mother taught me, and rise above the bad that I had in my childhood.
      4. Because of the legacy of women- I have been so blessed by many, many wonderful women in my life. I wanted to share and celebrate that legacy, then teach daughters about that sense of womanhood that drive us to love and support women.

      I did not want to be a mother just because children are an expected part of Mormondum. I did not want children just so I had social status in the church. I did not want children as ice-breakers when we moved to a new ward. I did not want a child in order to solidify my relkationship with my husband (make no mistake, we are solid, but we do that for us, not for “the sake” of the children– which I hear from others sometimes.)

      Its a different way of looking at selfishness. And in my case, I think I am significantly more selfish than couples who decide to not have children.

      So for me, having children is all about what I want.

  4. My childhood gave me the idea that being a mom is fun. My mother let us know how much she enjoyed us. When I grew up, I wanted that, too. I am in elementary education, so clearly I must have some underlying high esteem of children. The parent-child bond is a powerful thing to experience (I recognize that not all families experience this the same way or at all).

    That said, I can completely understand why someone would not want to be a parent. It can be hard, it can break your heart, it’s expensive, it almost never turns out the way you thought it would. There are many wonderful things in life that being a parent can get in the way of.

    What I don’t understand is some parents’ need to campaign for parenthood and try to convert people to their way of life. I don’t want a truck (a choice of much lesser consequence than parenthood), but no truck owners in my life evangelize or tell me that I don’t know what I’m missing. Why do people think it’s okay when it comes to reproduction?

    • I’m with you on the campaigning bit. I think a lot of people are excited and happy, and want to share that, assuming that what made them happy will make everyone happy. I went to lunch with some old roommates, one of whom had just had a baby. She looked at all of us and said, “Everyone should have kids!” I found that slightly odd. If I said that about pretty much anything, I’d get push-back. “Everyone should go to grad school” or “everyone should get a dog!” But statements like that concerning kids seem to be okay. It’s interesting.

  5. I was married at 21, but didn’t have a child until I was 30, by choice. I didn’t desire children at all in my 20s. It seemed like it would end my life, and I finally was reaping the rewards of hard work (therapy, education, learning to really love my spouse as my best rriend). My 20s were great–a very special respite for me, a time to spend with my husband, and to really push forward in my career. Marriage did not equal children for me. Marriage was marriage. Motherhood was something else.

    But I agonized about this constantly, wondering if something was wrong with me. So I want to really validate that there are women who just don’t want children. It’s OK. Totally OK. And now that having children is mostly a choice, I was surprised more people didn’t think deliberately about it. I certainly did, and do.

    So I eventually decided to become a mother. Part of it was facing my own aging, and part of it was a terminal illness diagnosis for my father. Mhana took the words right out of my mouth: “But when I am old, I would like adult children to come to Thanksgiving. I would like grandchildren to spoil.” As I observed the older family members I love grow old and die, I realized I loved family more than anything, and that I wanted to make some more family. I was looking at that long-term investment, about having my kids as adults, about getting together over the holidays. And it turns out, I adored my son in all stages. I liked him as a baby, even though I never really liked babies. And I love him as a toddler.

    But my child was diagnosed with medical and developmental difficulties in his first year, which are probably genetic. That means I hope he will eventually have a normal life, but he may not. Instead of getting that eventual adult relationship with my child I hoped for, I face the idea of having a child who never leaves the home, who needs care when I am too sick and elderly, who may outlive me but not be able to live on his own, who means that my husband and I will have to plan retirement for not just the two of us, but all three of us. And the possibility that any future children may also face a similar fate. This was very hard to face, but I will tell you with certainty that I’m glad I am facing this challenge in my 30′s, with a solid career (with health insurance) and financial stability and maturity to face this medical situation. If God had a plan for me, S/He made me wait until I was older so I could face these serious challenges. My son is better off with more mature and secure parents providing for his special needs.

    And so now I am stuck with wondering what to do about adding to our family. I still have Mhana’s dream of the adult relationships with my kids and spoiling my grandkids. But I have this very personal and private decision about medical and developmental issues and whether or not that is possible through biological children of ours. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating, but how glad I am that I have the medical technology that allows me to make bringing children into the world a choice. So whatever choice I make, I know it’s mine and my husband’s. That is why it’s so personal and private, and we really can’t judge the choices of others. I’m not goingt to go around wearing this heartache on my sleave everywhere I go, but oh how I would love to add to my family and eventually have grandkids. So if anyone sits down next to me with their newborn and I begin to cry, you now know why.

    • Alisa, I loved those sentences in Mhana’s comment. They resonated with me so firmly, as did your addition, of an ailing parent (as well as your own biological clock). The week that my husband’s mother passed away was a holy, holy week, and the most holy moments involved me sitting silently watching her children flutter around her with such tenderness and grace, taking such care in those last moments to ease her comfort in any small way that they could. I knew that that was love, and knew that I wanted that love to be around me when I am old and frail, and to listen to my stories, even if I say the same ones over and over like my own grandmother does.

      I also really appreciate your personal story and personal feelings about this very personal matter. You are doing a brave and noble thing all of the time, also with tenderness and grace. And the very last part, about pre-explaining why you might cry, I often feel the need to post-explain to some women I went to church with years ago why I cried every single Sunday, as they sat beside me, for different, but I believe still important reasons.

    • Alisa, thanks for sharing your story. I wish you luck with deciding what is right for your family, and comfort with that decision.

  6. I love reading the comments on this thread. Alisa, your story is so poignant. Thanks for sharing.

    Defy Gravity, i understand your lack of attraction to children. I thought babysitting was hell when I was young. I never had any desire to touch or hold a baby until my brother had one, and even then it was only for a very limited time that I wanted to hold one. I never had any interest in young children.

    But I knew I wanted to have a couple — mainly because I wanted to be a grandparent someday. I wanted people from subsequent generations to come visit me when I’m older.

    So I waited until I was almost 30 and had 3 of them. And it turns out that I LOVE my own babies. Who knew? Sure, my kids drive me nuts sometimes (a lot of the time), but also when I look at them at times I feel like my heart will explode because I love them so much.

    That said, I totally affirm choosing a different path. Not everyone will fall in love with their own babies once they have them. And if someone knows that having children is not the right choice for them, then it’s right to not go down that road.

    • Thanks for the affirmation Caroline!

  7. I have never been a baby person, but as a couple of people have mentioned, I looked forward to a future family with older children who could eventually become friends as well as children. One day as I was studying the scriptures, I felt very strongly that it was time to begin a family. It took a lot of courage for me to approach my husband, but we discussed it and again both felt that it was something we should do. Everyone’s decision process is different, but for me it was a leap of faith.

    I don’t regret that decision at all. I realize it’s not this way for everyone with small babies. Maybe it is for me partly because I went into motherhood with somewhat low expectations for the baby stage: just get through it and it will get better. But my baby is not just a baby; he is my son. I don’t know how to describe that. I don’t look at him and see a baby. I look at him and see a person. I know exactly what he is capable of and I get excited when he learns how to do the smallest new thing that no one else would even notice. As he discovers the world, I watch how patient he is with not being able to do all that he wants and yet how persistent he is in trying to learn, and then I think about how God probably watches me and wants me to be as patient and persistent as my son as I continue learning. It’s been a spiritual experience that I couldn’t have anticipated. I’m beginning to see the divine wisdom in families as places of spiritual growth.

    I’m not saying that anyone should become a parent solely for the personal benefits because there is a lot of just pure service and sacrifice, but the rewards are better than anyone could have explained to me. It’s fulfilling. I expected being the mother of an older child who could talk to me would be rewarding, but as hard as motherhood is, it’s better than I thought it would be right now, even while my baby is small.

    Another pleasant side effect: the husband and I feel more like family. We had a good relationship before, and I’m not suggesting that anyone should have children to fix their relationship, but it has brought us closer together than anything else so far.

  8. I always knew that I wanted to have kids. I got married at 22 and after a deliberate choice to wait, had our first son 3.5 yrs later. Now 4 years later we have three little boys. The every two year route has been rough with the addition of #3, especially when the oldest has ASD. Even though our odds of having another special needs child has greatly increased, we both felt it was right to continue on increasing our family. I can’t describe the joy these boys bring to my life. They drive me nuts many days too, and I work a bit outside the home as well, but they are so worth it. I love all the things our small family did together when I was a child and while Autism has rather thrown a wrench in some of those idyllic plans, I can’t imagine how much better things are going to get as they grow up.

  9. I grew up assuming I would have kids, because that’s what people do. I generally like babies. I think they’re cute, though I’ve never really had to deal with the mess, neediness, constant crying, giving so little back of babies. When I got married, however, as a 30-year-old woman with a masters degree, and started finally having a feminist awakening, I really doubted my desire and ability to have kids. Part of the issue is that I’m a type 1 diabetic, and while getting pregnant and giving birth won’t be impossible, it will be complicated and a huge pain, as well as potentially dangerous.

    After throwing around the idea of adopting or fosteringg for a while, husband and I have decided to give pregnancy a go. My main motivation is my husband. He’s brilliant, gentle and sweet, hilariously funny, ridiculously cute, and so often when I look at him or snuggle him, my spontaneous thought is: “This man’s DNA must continue.” Sometimes when I look at him I can see in my mind’s eye a blonde little toddler with a silly grin. That image is motivating me (for now) to go through the trouble and expense and pain and sacrifice.

    There’s also an element of wanting to know what sort of person will result from the combination of our DNA. Just curiosity, plus a little hubris. (“Our kids are going to be amazing!”)

    • I love that you want to pass your DNA on. That just makes me smile.

      That’s actually one of my concerns; my family has fairly significant health problems that I could pass on.

  10. I’m one of those who doesn’t like the color orange, mostly, because it just really irritates me. Like it or not, I have issues with Anxiety/Panic, and colors can and do affect and effect my mood. Orange is just one of those colors you will never see on me, or on any wall in my home.

    I have also never wanted to marry, nor did I have want to have children. I remember sitting in the kitchen in my foster mother’ house and having a conversation with my foster aunt about boys and dating and she was quite sure of herself when she said that I would start dating once I was in college. I remember distinctive saying,’No, I don’t think so, I’m not going to marry, nor am I going to have children. I just don’t want any of it. Who knows, maybe if I hadn’t been raised in foster care, my opinion of family, on marriage on children might have differed, but, since I was raised in foster care, we will never know.

    But, I want to be clear, I don’t want children because I’m selfish, I know I would be a good mom because of how I acted and behaved as a nanny for twenty years(various families). Unlike, those who have previously posted, I actually enjoyed being with babies. I love seeing the transformation of a total and complete helpless individual to one who has mastered the toddler world, fully mobile and running into life full tilt. I love that age the best.

    I’m also not one of those who thinks that one should have a child so that they will have grandchildren. If you want a child in your life, (especially, if you think it will make you less selfish) you can always volunteer your time. Big brothers/Big Sisters and various organizations need people to help mentor at risk youth. I’m sure these organizations will be glad to have you.(I’m saying this with all sincerity, and I’m not being judgmental)

    • Just to be clear on a trivial matter — I understand people not liking orange, or finding it oppressive. It just happens to be my favorite color. It rains and rains and rains and rains here in Oregon and I desperately need a little spot of sunshine and orange does the trick for me. To each their own.

      • I just got back from Oregon, and I can totally see that. Although I am not a fan of orange in most circumstances.

    • I agree there are lots of ways to get involved and be a good influence without being a parent. And there are so many kids who need that…

  11. I’ve always wanted to have children.

    1. I’ve always wanted to be pregnant – and be a part of that basic woman’s experiences. I’ve wondered what it would be like to see and feel that swell in my belly and feel life move inside.

    2. I love many things about babies. I like the way they stare into my eyes and the feel of tiny hands on my face. They are so small on my arms and I love to press them close to my chest. They can smell so good (when they don’t smell like spoiled milk) and feel so soft.

    3. I like small children. They are so funny and clever. I like hearing them learn to talk and make those crazy animal sounds that we all teach them …. ‘what does a cow say ….’

    4. I like growing kids and even teen-agers. I think they’re interesting – and I like to watch them (and help them) sort out the problems that start to come their way. I like to see them find something they like (or are good at) and see the joy they have in doing it. The idea of being their mother and teaching them all sorts of things about the world …. that part is really interesting to me.

    5. I also think having adult children would be really nice. Learning to become friends and enjoying adult life together …. and working through hard trials … supporting each other in the family.

    I know it’s not for everyone … and there are unpleasant things about being a mother. But I think I would have liked it …. for the most part.

    Suzette

  12. where does the idea that having children makes you less selfish or that not having children makes you more selfish? this always comes up in the discussion. it really bothers me.

    • I’m with you. I find the connection between children and selfishness confusing and disheartening.

      I wrote a bit of a rebuttal to that idea on my blog, in a post about being childless by choice.

      http://femininewound.blogspot.com/2012/05/things-you-should-never-say-to-person.html

      • i really enjoyed your blog post! unbelievable the things people say about personal matters. who’s to say that people that have biological children aren’t selfish. maybe they’re more selfish because they want a mini-me/want to see themselves in their own children vs. those that adopt or care for foster children, etc.

      • Thanks! I’ve gotten some interesting reactions.

  13. I was not enamored of little children or babies growing up. I had lots of younger siblings so little kids were just part of life and taking care of very small ones full time seemed like it would be tedious.

    However, in my mid-twenties, we felt like we wanted to expand the love and care my husband and I had in our marriage beyond just the two of us. And so we chose children.

    And it turned out that, sure enough, for us it was one of the best ways to expand that circle of love and care.

  14. I actually wrote a much longer blog post about this topic (http://andthenshewaslikeblahblahblah.blogspot.com/2012/06/france-post-which-has-nothing-to-do.html) … but the short answer is, I don’t NOT want to have kids. But I have never felt that desire to have a kid. I sometimes wonder if more people aren’t indifferent to the idea, but feel like they can’t admit it.

    • I love your blog post. I think because parenthood, and motherhood in particular, is so emotionally charged, people feel they must act a certain way to be accepted.

  15. Also, I have no idea why my comment ended up after Jules. Must of hit the wrong reply. Boo

  16. Some of my greatest joys have come from time spent with my sons. I guess I could compare it to a sculptor or a carpenter. It takes hard work to create, but the pride in knowing you have made something that will benefit others is rewarding. I also get a better understanding of the love Heavenly Father has for me no being a father myself.

    Now I would say those who don’t want to have kids shouldn’t. There are a lot of unwanted kids in the world. We don’t need anyone having kids in hopes they learn to love them.

    • “There are a lot of unwanted kids in the world. We don’t need anyone having kids in hopes they learn to love them.” My feelings exactly. That seems so unfair to kids to hope you’ll want them, then end up resenting them through no fault of their own.

  17. Alisa, thanks for your comment. I feel like I’m in a similar boat- got married at 20, mid-late twenties now. Just starting my career and things are working out- kids will hugely change things. My father also was just dx with a terminal illness, and I’m the oldest child, no grandkids for them yet. It’s giving me a new perspective on things. I do want to have them but it seems like there will never be a right time, six and a half years of marriage flew by easily without them and I know six more years could fly by…

    • Myka, I’m so sorry to hear about your father.

  18. I’ve had a similar conversation at work with a man who also does not want kids. He is of the opinion that kids ruin everything: your stuff, your fortune, your vacations, your sex life, etc. I freely admitted to him, being the father of two myself, that his view is accurate, just not comprehensive. I told him that for me, children simply become the focus of everything good and bad in your life. They are certainly the source of most major disappointments and frustrations, but also truly the meaning underlying the most sublime joys, the happiest memories, and most poignant and abiding love I’ve ever felt. I told him that if he is the type of man who finds himself most content avoiding pain and discomfort, then children are not for him, but if, on the other hand, he is the type who actively seeks out the best this life can offer, come with it what may, then to forgo the experience of loving your own child (biological or adopted) is to live an incomplete life.

    • That is an interesting perspective. But how do you know this man’s life will be incomplete without being a parent?

      • My apologies: I should have been more careful in my wording. I did not mean claim that I knew that my co-worker would lead an incomplete life as a non-parent. Period. What I meant was to suggest that if he were more comfortable avoiding the discomfort of parenthood at the expense of its rewards — a real and quantifiable discomfort — than he would be taking the joys of parenthood along with all the unpleasantries, then he would likely be happiest as a non-parent. I did not stress adequately the possibility of being a happy non-parent: I do not believe that he, nor anoyone else, must be miserable in order to live a complete life. Moreover, I do not means to suggest that this assessment is the only valid criterion for determining whether or not to parent a child, only that it is a valid criterion, and the one on which I chose to comment. I sincerely hope I have not offended; such was not my intention.

      • Thanks for the clarification! I wasn’t offended, just wasn’t quite sure what you meant.

  19. For me, I always saw children as cute but was happy I did not have any. And I never dreamed of being a mother. When I decided to have my child, it was more because of curiosity. Because it is part of life, I wanted to try it and thought to myself that if I like it, I will have more (biological and/or adopt); if I don’t like it, I will have only one. I also knew well what this would mean for me – change in identity (someone’s else’s mother), more work at home, harder to balance family life with work and such. And all those were true when the baby came. I also thought that I would feel happiness because people thought of that and in my case, I have been surprised at how much pure joy I have felt. I am so glad to have had him. However, I do see how great my life would have been without him – time for myself, time for my husband, a clean ordered house instead of a cluttered one, less expenses, time and money for traveling abroad and adventures, better energy and body, much more sleep, more friends and so on. Having a child is a lot of work, especially if the child has disabilities or the family’s resources are not always enough. I do miss all the things I don’t have time to do but I don’t regret not doing them for the moment. I did those for 30 years and I am glad to do something different – something that overfills my heart with the purest and most simple joys in life. Having a baby has made me understand God a little more, has made me feel more empowered as a woman (even though a tired woman most of the time). I also feel that every child out there (especially the orphans) is in a way my child because I have learned more about their needs and psychology. And I hope in my life to take care of them in a way or another.

    So this is my experience of becoming a mother/parent. I completely understand why people decide not to have children because for years I was one of them. Things change – your body, your self esteem, your marriage, your family, your profession – and these changes might not be what you want. If I would have any advise for people, is to be true to the desires of their heart and create the life they want to live without considering church, people and such. They don’t matter because they will not live your life, only you will. So think about things, make a decision and always evaluate your heart and life on and off to make sure you update your thinking with what you are learning from living.

    I am also realizing more and more that every decision is mine and I should not let circumstances determine the quality of my life. So, I find myself fight more and better for the life I want to have, the marriage I want to have and the career that I want to have. Having a baby has not limited me, it is only teaching me how to do things in a different way. And in this process, I have learned not to judge others and not to make a big deal out of people’s comments. No time but especially no energy for that.

  20. I’d like to share my own thought, though it is mine and might not be for everyone.

    I recently married (within the last year) at the age of 34. Being staunchly single until about 2 years ago, I had a great life. I have a great career, great friends & associates and pretty much everything that on paper we’re supposed to want. I lived in almost the kind of home I wanted to and I had enough to do all the things I wanted to without much concern. But while I had “it all”, I always felt there was a little bit of a dead spot inside, though it didn’t bother me because I was very well entertained and over all pretty content with my life :)

    Then I met the woman I would marry.

    Being an intropective and spiritual person by nature, as my relationship with my now wife grew I felt like I was learning more about love and in turn learning more about how God loves all of us and in turn how to be more like God.

    While I can’t know yet, I do want children in part because I feel that will help me learn even more about love and how to be like Heavenly Father and Jesus and that is something I want for myself and something I hope I can pass on to them.

  21. I love babies and kids so I always knew I wanted them. I love their funny little bodies, watching them learn to read, the hilarious things they say, their imaginations.

    But in a way, I also wanted the hard parts. I have an idea of the person I want to become and having kids (and all the learning of patience, charity, love, hope, etc that comes with it if you’re working hard and trying to learn) is a good way of becoming that person. It’s certainly not the only way, but it’s an effective one.

    I think “selfish” is very poor language. Obviously no kids/kids doesn’t correlate with selfish/unselfish. But hopefully having kids teaches people that their personal agendas don’t really matter nearly as much as they thought. That’s different from unselfishness, but I think that’s the awakening that people are trying to describe when they use the word selfish.

    • I think that’s a good explanation, and I’m sure that kids can pull your focus to a broader perspective. Anytime you are focusing on the happiness and well-being of other as much as your own, that is bound to happen.

  22. Interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever really tried to analyze why I wanted kids…I do think part of it was simply that I’ve grown up with the idea of having a family one day, so it just seemed like a natural thing.

    However, I have to say that even though I’ve worked a lot with kids before I ever had my own, I never really loved kids that deeply. Occasionally, there’d be a kid that I’d find really cute, and wanted to hold. But like others have mentioned, often I didn’t care too much. When I became an aunt for the first time, I think that was the first time I felt some sort of deeper connection to a child. I really loved that niece. She was born just before I left on a mission, and while I didn’t care much about not seeing my family (whom I love) for 18 months, I was seriously heartbroken to leave my niece behind.

    When I got married, kids were just on the “life plan”, but not something I desired at that point internallly. In fact, I was terrified at the thought of getting pregnant, and worried about becoming a mother. At some point we went ahead, because it just felt like it was time, but I was very afraid…afraid I may not really love the child, afraid that I’d get tired of the whole mothering business since you don’t get a break from being responsible for someone else, afraid how a child would change my marital relationship, afraid I’d find my kid ugly, or annoying, and it’d suffer some psychological damage because of having ajerky mom…The worries were endless.

    Why did I go ahead…? I don’t know. It just felt like the right thing. And somehow I wanted a family. I grew up with lots of siblings, and I loved having siblings. I loved doing things with family, getting together for holidays, vacations, or other occasions. I think family is fun. And I wanted to have family when I got older…

    • Thank you for sharing your story. I share your fear, and admire you for going forward with what was right for you, even though you were afraid.

  23. I’ll throw this out just to rattle the cage. What was the first commandment to Adam and Eve? To multiply and replentish the earth. There are a million reasons for and against having children. But if you believe in the plan of salvation, there are spirits waiting to obtain a physical body. Is having children in this life an absolute necessity in order to make it to the CK? Of course not. But, I think the desire to want to participate in the plan (to the extent one can) should be a real focus. Is an otherwise healthy husband and wife’s refusal to bear children “selfish?” I don’t know. That will have to be a question answered by the couple one day. But if you’ve been sealed in the temple as a couple, you do have an affirmative obligation to at least want to try and have children. For any man/woman who doesn’t want to have children in this life, they probably shouldn’t undertake the obligations of a temple sealing.

    • That is an interesting interpretation, although I don’t know that it is up to anyone to judge who should and should not enter the temple. And since the temple is kept so secret, it would be hard to know that you shouldn’t be there (with your definition of who should and should not be there) until you’ve already been there…

      Also, Adam and Eve were given a commandment. But why do we automatically assume that that commandment extends to the rest of us. What if that commandment was specifically for them, because, in theory, they were the first people on the planet and needed to populate it. That is no longer the case, as the earth is populated. So I don’t know that we can jump from one commandment given to one couple to telling every couple they should have children or they are breaking commandments and covenants.

      • The commandment to multiply and replenish is applicable to all. See “The Family: A Proclamation To The World”; “Children”, Neil L. Anderson, October 2012 General Conference. Do a search on the church’s website for “multiply replenish earth” and you’ll get a gazillion hits. Though the temple is sacred (not secret), it’s no secret that as part of the temple sealing ceremony, couples are admonished to multiply and replenish the earth.

      • Fortunately, it doesn’t say that multiplying and replenishing the earth has to be done through children instead of other creative endeavors. First off, having biological offspring is not literally “multiplyling” of an idividual or couple, so we have to look for more symbollic meanings. Multiplying a person or couple would mean making clones, and clearly that’s not what God meant given the technology of the time, right? So clearly, multiplying individuals or couples as a literal commandment is off the table since there’s never been much human cloning going on.

        Multiplying your thoughts and ideas and contributing to the world around you are perfectly valid options for the commandment, and backed up through modern-day revelation and talks in General Conference, as well as led by example through the prophets. I noticed that a coupld of apostles have been married lately in the temple and are not having children or adopting children or adding to their children despite being given this commandment at their weddings, but they are continuing to multiply their thoughts, ideas, and creations in the work, and so I think they set the clear example of how literal to take this commandment. This is the case even when the apostle’s wife has had no children in her lifetime, so she is to remain childless by choice rather than become a mother through biology (maybe not possible at a certain age) or legal adoption of a baby.

        Here’s a symbolic interpretation: The word was made flesh, but it was first the word. Words are sacred. Ideas are sacred. Art is sacred. Contributing your talents and channeling them into creation is sacred. These are all ways we can multiply ourselves and fill the earth with goodness and creation. Those who don’t have children still get to participate in the acts of creation.

        There are a multitude of conference talks about how biological parenthood or parenthood in general are not required to be mothers or parents or fulfill that part of our nature. See Sheri Dew’s famous conference talk on how every woman is a mother, which means that by being a mere woman she has fulfilled this commandment as a daughter of Eve and has no need to marry or become a mother physically to further it. If you believe her reasoning, and the other reasoning given in plenty of talks about women who never had children, you will see they found ways to multiply themselves and fill their corner of the earth with their creation. We may not all be biological parents, but we can fulfill this commandment by being creators as inspired by the Sprit, just like our divine nature tells us to be. We need not be limited to cloning our own DNA to literally fulfill the commandment to multiply ourselves. God has other possibilities that are much less literal.

        Some may say these other/symbollic interpretations only apply to women who don’t have children for particular reasons: some women can’t have children because of biology. Some face huge adoption rescrictions. Some never marry. And some have all these things: the biological ability, the marriage, the legal and financial means to adopt, but there are still other prohibiting factors for them. Perhaps the Spirit is telling them “No.” And isn’t that reason enough? Although I am a biological mother, at times in my life the Spirit told me “No.” And I heard and obeyed. And I’ve been blessed. I support the right of other women to follow this guidance of when to have children, and say that it’s possible God might tell them to never have children for reasons special to them. But they can still meet their requirement to multiply and fill the earth, with or without children, but the perspective to take in all the data from modern-day revelation is required, not just narrow interpretations.

      • Huh? I was married in the temple, and I vowed to love, honor and cherish my husband, and to obey the laws and covenants of marriage. I do not recall any vow to multiply and replenish in the wedding ceremony. In the endowment ceremony, I believe that “multiply and replenish” is discussed, as part of the Adam and Eve story, but temple participants do not make a “multiply and replenish” covenant.

      • Alisa, I love you. Your descriptions of alternate interpretations of multiply and replenish the earth are lovely. The temple is supposed to be symbolic, and I love the symbolism you have found. That’s one thing I did like about the temple; that is was so open to different interpreted depending on what you needed and what God might have to say. As a theatre person, I find God in that kind of creativity, and see art in many forms as multiplying beauty, love and intelligence.

        And April, I”m with you. I don’t remember that in my sealing ceremony or others I’ve attended. I know the sealer will often give advice about children, but that’s not part of the sealing itself.

      • Alisa – I think it’s a stretch to say that when the temple sealer pronounced the words “multiply and replenish the earth”, he wasn’t refering to child bearing. The temple is full of symbolism, but I daresay you won’t find any church authority who will say the admonition to multiply and repenish the earth is just a symbolic gesture. Do the least bit of search on the church website and there’s plenty of material in support of the doctrine. Yes, people are governed by their own conscience as to how to meet that commandment. But to think our doctrine equates raising children with raising, say, pets, for example, is not accurate. April – you actually didn’t vow to honor, love and cherish your husband. Such language is not used the temple sealing. You might attend a live sealing the next time opportunity arises, or do some sealing work for the deceased, and you will hear a very different kind of question than the “vows” that are typcially spoken at a civil ceremony. And yes, even older couples who are sealed in the temple are commanded to multiply and replenish. It almost always draws a smile and giggle from those in attendance. But if a woman is past child bearing age, she obviously can’t do that, the same way a younger infertile man/woman can’t do it. But the admonition is still there, hence why I said a couple should “want” children, even if they are unable to have them because of limitations, be they physical, mental, and so forth. Again, I’m just pointing out church doctrine. I don’t think “zero” is really a valid option for otherwise healthy couples sealed in the temple. If you don’t agree with it, that’s fine. If you’re a non-member, that’s fine.

      • The last bit I’ll add, then I’m on my way. Please – if you don’t think “multiply and replenish the earth” is part of the temple sealing ordinance, you need to attend a live sealing at your earliest convenience. I know, with the hustle and bustle of the day, you may not remember everything that’s said to you. Or, if you’ve attended the sealings of friends, that you may have been focused on something else. But I’ve attended at least 20 live temple sealing ceremonies, including those of my own adult children recently. The words are there and are part of the temple sealing ordinance. They are not added as an afterthought or “advice.” They are part of the sealing ceremony itself. They aren’t repeated in proxy sealings, only live sealings. If in doubt, go meet with a member of the temple presidency and I’m sure he’ll be glad to review the ceremony with you.

  24. FWIW – I know it’s not up to me to judge who should enter the temple, although we certainly judge ourselves as we participate in the TR process. Thus far, the comments to your question were focusing on people’s emotional reasons for having or not having children. Was merely noting that the church strongly believes couples should “want” to have children. It’s part of the doctrine, and part of the covenants one makes in the temple. How or if one keeps his or covenants is strictly between the member and the Lord. See also SWK: The Lord could have organized his world without this propagation program; he could have filled the earth with physical human bodies in some other way than that which he designed, perhaps some incubator process, but it seems that merely filling the earth with human beings was not the great objective of our Lord, and therefore a father and a mother were designed to be given to every child that was born, and they should love and teach that child and prepare him to become like his Father in heaven, in righteousness and purity.

    • Bear in mind, the Family Proclamation is not scripture. And Anderson’s talk did acknowledge that when and how many children to have is between the couple and God. He did choose examples that condemned those who waited to have children, but he did acknowledge that the choice lay with the couple. In theory, the time could be never and the number could be zero. Or the answer could be caring for children that are not biologically your own, or who are not legally your own.

      It wold be lovely if every child had parents who wanted them. In actuality, there are children who are not wanted, who already exist. Would God prefer we leave these children in pain, in danger to have our own?

      Finally, I find you last paragraph interesting. “they should love and teach that child and prepare him to become like his Father in heaven, in righteousness and purity.” So only male children can become like Heavenly Father?

      • The Proclamation is not doctrine in a technical sense. It is a summary of doctrine. The Testimony of the Living Apostles is not “doctrine”, either, but it is a summary of doctrine. Since we believe in Heavenly Parents (again, a notion mentioned in the Proclamation), I assume SWK implied that girls are prepared to become like the Mother in Heaven.

      • “I don’t think “zero” is really a valid option for otherwise healthy couples sealed in the temple.” What gives you the right to decide what temple covenants mean for other people or how they should keep them? You can choose to believe that children are necessary for your salivation, but you do not have the right to decide what God thinks is necessary for others’ salvation. If it is valid for an older couple or infertile couple to not have children, or to parent in ways aside from having their own children, why isn’t that option available to other couples? It sounds as though you believe God would demand that everyone becomes parents, even those who would be bad at it. Do you think God would prefer that people become bad parents over not becoming parents at all?

    • Just a thought, you say that it is not up to you who should enter the temple. yet, you more than allude to the fact that people are not living up to the Temple standards should they decide not to have children. In that thought process you are indeed being judgmental towards those of us who know in our heart of hearts that we don’t want to have children. I’m not okay with that, nor am I okay with people who say that my life is some how lacking, or incomplete, or that we Or people like me, are being somehow selfish by choosing not to have children, or choosing not to marry.

      As Shakespeare said,”To thine own self be true,” To have children, to be marry just to satisfy everyone else’ need, or to satisfy some religious authority needs to interfere in my own autonomy that I as an individual have every right to decide for myself.

      My righteousness should be determined by how I acted here on earth, not on my gender, not on whether I’m married, or single, not whether or not I decide to have a boat load of children or not.

      • I totally agree Diane.

  25. I don’t really like the comment I made earlier now that I’ve had time to think of it, but I did want to add this thought: Its been pretty recently that anyone has an option to have children or not if they are in a sexual relationship. Although there have been birth control methods for hundreds of years, they haven’t been as accurate as current methods available now. I mention this to remind us that the ability to choose to have or not to have children is something that may take our culture some time to work out how to think about it. There are people who think its wrong to not have children, but these attitudes might change as more time passes with this choice being possible.

    • Thanks for the reminder Jules. You are very right; the option to choose is a fairly recent one, and one that not all women have. Because it is so new, mindsets about what is right and wrong where children are concerned are changing. But for hundreds of years, the option did not exist, and even when birth control was available, it took a long time for it to be accepted. It’s not surprising that mindsets are still in flux.

  26. You know, I read this OP and I’ve read the responses and I’m angry, red hot boiling angry and I’m going to tell you why. I was reading an article, I forget whether it was in The Huffington Post, or The New York Times, but, either way that’s besides the point. The article was interviewing a man who is a widower and who is planning to sue the country of Ireland because the state interfered with his wife’s care after a miscarriage. The hospital where is wife was taken refused to perform an abortion after they(the hospital staff) knew the baby was dead, the woman lay in a hospital bed and eventually died from sepsis and organ failure. In my mind, this did not have to happen, this only happened because some religious authority(Primarily Male) thought they knew better and could interfere in a critical decision that should have been left between the wife/husband and the woman’s doctor. But, no, in the 2012 in the of our Lord, still some women are at the mercy of some rule of religious law which takes away autonomy,

    My response is not that abortion should be legal, , my response is about the fact that we are living in a century where little girls like the teenager in Afghanistan who was shot in the head for wanting an education, and yet, still another young girl was beheaded for refusing to, marry the member of another tribe. and others still want shove the Proclamation of the family to the World

    My response to not wanting to have children/ marry is because I see all this going on around me and its people, not God, who permit this to happen, Its people, not God, who demand people marry and have children they don’t want, its people, not God, who makes the judgements , against people who don’t want children, and its people, not God, who didn’t protect the woman from having the miscarriage, its people not God, who didn’t protect the Afghan girl from being shot in the head, and its people, not God who didn’t protect the Girl from being beheaded for not wanting to marry.

    I may or may not be able to “Tell You Why,” but, I certainly tell you,”Why Not,” And that’s this: I don’t think I should have to sacrifice myself to be a martyr for the cause of family, when the family of man allows this to happen. That may, or may not be dark, but, that’s how I feel at the moment

    • Again, I totally understand where you are coming from. It angers me to have to defend my decisions when they differ from people’s expectations, and to be called selfish when I have legitimate reasons for doing what I do.

      There is so much attributed to God that turns God into a cruel, petty being, or someone who looks like us instead of something divine. God has been used to cause so much pain, and I find that deplorable.

      I do think that the comments on this post have been generally non-judgmental, coming from a place of personal experience. I have really appreciated that; at least many of us can have the discussion without judging others or assuming that we know the mind of God for others.

  27. DefyGravity, I’m so glad you wrote this. There are as many reasons for people to want/not want children, that there should be no room for castigating people who make responsible and deliberate choices.

    I’m at a point where it is unlikely that I will ever have children. I can say that I would have loved to have a child. I can also say that my life is a pretty wonderful thing, and that I base my happiness on the blessings in my life, and not the things that I don’t have. All in all, I’ve just come to realize that each day is a gift.

  28. Love the discussion here.

    My own answer to your original question: My husband and I wanted somebody else to share our lives with. It sounds kind of corny, but at it’s core, our decision to have children was driven by the desire to have somebody else to love. The phrase “grow our family” really meant something to us because that’s exactly what it felt like. We were our own little family already, and we were ready for that family to expand beyond the two of us and to have a tag-along or two on our life journey together. We have a great relationship and for several years our lives felt VERY complete without kids. And then one day, it just didn’t anymore. I didn’t have this overwhelming desire to have a baby necessarily. I join the ranks of many of you who have never really been a “kid” person. There’s a lot that goes along with motherhood I knew I would probably just tolerate rather than enjoy. But I looked at my own parents and siblings and the kind of mini-community that created, and I realized my husband and I were ready for that — a community to share our love with instead of just each other. So far (we’ve got a two-month old) that’s exactly what it’s been like. Pregnancy was horribly uncomfortable, I never want to go through labor again, and breastfeeding, etc. has been harder than I imagined. Motherhood has not increased my happiness. But having a new person to share things with and to develop a relationship with has been awesome.

    You asked if it’s reasonable to ask people if they can define why they wanted to have kids? I think every parent should be able to answer that question because I think every child should come into this world because it was wanted and not just because it was the “default” choice. I think it’s really awesome you know yourself well enough to know what you want and don’t want. No one should have to apologize in our society (or in Mormondom which should be a safe-haven for personal choice considering our emphasis on agency, but is often the furthest thing from) not wanting to have kids. There does seem to be a lot of talk of “selfishness” that creeps in in these discussions, so forgive me for going there, too, but I think a choice not to have kids can be just as “selfless” as the choice to have them. You mentioned that it would be unfair to any kids you did have to have them. I don’t know your circumstances, but I know several women who feel exactly the same way as you and I think they are some of the most unselfish people I know for having the perspective and maturity to put the needs of their unborn kids ahead of their desire to fit in. Some people might see those who choose not to have children as selfish, but I think it would have been the most selfish thing in the world for me to have kids before I was ready or at a point in my life when I didn’t want them just so that I could meet some societal expectation. Every person deserves to enter this world to parents who wanted them and not just because they checked off some master-list of life experiences for someone else. Kids or no kids, I think living the life you feel driven to have is ALWAYS the better choice. That’s not selfish — that’s called being authentic.

    • Thanks so much for your story. I love your description of creating a community.

      And I totally agree all children should be wanted. It seems strange to me that something so big as children are so often a default decision, instead of an intentional one.

  29. I know I’m late to this discussion but I find it really quite interesting. I always thought I wanted children for as long as I can remember, I wanted a big family. It is what I saw, it is what I wanted. Through my twenties I longed for a family – I think I wanted the kids more than I even wanted a husband. And it only got worse the closer I got the 30, I wanted a baby so much I couldn’t imagine a life without progeny. My womb cried out to be filled. My sisters got married and I graduated from law school – alone. A year later when my sister called me to tell me she was pregnant, I sobbed. I lay down on the floor of my living room and cried my heart out. I thought about killing myself – what was the point of this life if I was going to have to endure it alone.

    And then a funny thing happened, my sister had that baby and suddenly it was like that biological pressure to reproduce was lifted. I held that little baby and was perfectly happy to hand it right back and go on living. I realized that all reasons that I so desperately wanted to have a baby were selfish. That’s right selfish. I wanted a baby for me. I wanted the experience of bringing life into the world. I wanted someone to love and someone to love me back. I wanted to be part of the community of parents that I saw all around me. I wanted to put all my troublesome lady parts to good use.

    But in the end I realized that while there is divinity in nature, divinity transcends nature. I would still like to have someone to love and someone to love me back. I would still like to be a part of a community. But those things are not continent upon reproduction. And after seeing what my nieces have done to my sister’s body, I’m no longer jealous. I am happy for her. I love her and her babies but I don’t need my own.

    I do feel a little guilt about all the children in the world who need a good home – I could see myself adopting or fostering if the opportunity presented itself but I feel no need or compulsion to bear them.

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